Batuhan: No timid soul

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By Allan S. B. Batuhan

Foreign Exchange

Friday, May 17, 2013

THE electoral process has to be the most inspiringly egalitarian of all popular exercises human civilization has ever known.

Picture this for a second. One person, one vote. Yes, every enfranchised man or woman is entitled to one vote each. Whether that person is a graduate of Harvard University, or whether he or she is a humble illiterate from the slums, both of them get a vote each.

No more, no less—just a vote each.


The equality of all men, before God, and before society, has been a principle long held up and down through the ages. In Galatians 3:28, St. Paul tells us: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

And Thomas Jefferson, whose stirring words are forever enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence, says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

When my brother Totol ran for office as congressional representative of the city’s south district, these were the words constantly ringing in his ears.

A strongly principled and committed man, he fervently believed that the citizens of the district deserved more than their current lot in life.

He wanted to ensure that the youth got the chance to have a decent and quality education; that the poor and destitute have access to affordable health care; that the marginalized be able to afford shelter over their heads; and that the electoral process in general be reformed, so that those who are not scions of the rich and famous, and not descendants of political dynasties, may still be elected to public office, and get their chance to serve the people.

My life has almost always revolved around the relative order and discipline of the private sector, where policies and procedures are in place, followed and respected.

But in the last elections, I immersed myself more than usual in the process—accompanying my brother to depressed areas in the district, listening to forums with groups of the poor and underprivileged, and generally just observing the abject conditions so many of our brothers and sisters in the district still live under.

Of course I would say this, because I am his brother. But I have never seen a man as passionate about alleviating the plight of the south district, than my brother Totol.

Truth be told, he never really needed to be in public office. And his family and those close to him have said to him as much.

He is a top-notch lawyer with a flourishing law practice. He graduated from the most prestigious institutions in the world, and has a bright future ahead of him in his chosen field.

And yet he chose to be in the trenches with the dead and dying. To mar his face with the blood, sweat and tears of the struggle, so that the cause of the people may be advanced.

One of his favorite lines is from the US President Teddy Roosevelt, who proclaimed: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

In the end, he stumbled at the last hurdle.

The system’s one person, one vote principle to which he ardently subscribes, and still faithfully adheres to, had let him down.

Too many machinations and manipulations—tricks which he did not himself want to play—cost the people of the district the opportunity to have a truly great and inspiring leader.

But while he may have lost this time around, his fight is not yet over. Like he promised in his letter of gratitude to the district, he will continue to fight for them, even as a private citizen.

The man simply refuses to be a cold and timid soul.

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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2013.


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